REVERSING welfare reforms implemented by the UK Government since 2015 could lift 70,000 Scots out of poverty, the First Minister has said.

During a lengthy session with the Conveners Group on Wednesday morning, Yousaf said a Scottish Government analysis found that moves such as reinstating the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, reversing the two-child limit, and other Tory policies, would have a huge impact on poverty levels in Scotland.

Yousaf added that reversing the policy decisions would also lift 10,000 children out of poverty.

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The FM also told MSPs that he has seen a “continual undermining of devolution” from the UK Government and that the view was shared by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Yousaf said the issue was a “great worry” and pointed to several breaches of the Sewel Convention, the use of a Section 35 order, and the Retained EU Law Bill.

SNP MSP Collette Stevenson asked the FM if the Scottish Government had done any analysis on how many people in Scotland could be lifted out of poverty if the UK Government would reverse some of its own policies.

The FM told the committee: “The top line of that analysis shows that when it comes to the various UK Government welfare reforms, if the key ones were reversed that have occurred since 2015, we would bring an estimated 70,000 people out of poverty.

The National:

“So just reversing some of those key regressive welfare reforms that have occurred since 2015, 70,000 people would be brought out of poverty - and that includes 30,000 children as well.

“So we have, as I say, some detail of that analysis in terms of what various different interventions if we reverse them could do.

“For example, when it comes to reinstating the £20 uplift that I've already mentioned to Universal Credit, reversing the benefits freeze, reversing the two-child limit, removal of the family element of that, each of those interventions would just in isolation bring around 10,000 children out of poverty.”

On the issue of intergovernmental relations (IGR), Yousaf told MSPs that the structures in place for dealing with the UK Government “works on paper”.

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“I think it's more the culture as opposed to the actual structure,” he said.

“I’ve had a couple of conversations now with the Prime Minister, and of course with other UK Government ministers as well, we’ll continue to have those conversations and with Welsh counterparts as well.”

Yousaf added that what “frustrates” him is that while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been “willing to listen to the arguments” put forward by the Scottish Government there is a “continual undermining of our devolution”.

“That to me is of great worry,” Yousaf added.

“We can have all the processes and structures that the IGR gives you, you can have all the warm words, you can have all the cordial meetings in the world, but if for example, we are being undermined, this parliament is being undermined and in my view it absolutely is.”

Yousaf said this included not granting an exemption for the Deposit Return Scheme in the Internal Market Act, breaches of the Sewel Convention, use of a Section 35 order, and more.

“There are many examples I could give that are of serious concern,” the FM added.

The First Minister added that his views are shared by the Welsh FM Drakeford and the Welsh Government and that the issue of the erosion of devolution was at the top of the agenda when the pair first met.

During the lengthy evidence session, Yousaf was asked by Scottish Labour MSP Richard Leonard if he would change the culture in government.

Leonard, convener of the Public Audit Committee, said that Scottish Government officials had been opaque and uncooperative while the probe into the Ferguson Marine ferry fiasco was underway.

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The FM said that there are some reports that cannot be released in regards to the shipyard because it would put them at a commercial disadvantage, but he insisted in other areas the Government will aim to be transparent.

Yousaf was also asked to give assurances that financial memorandums will contain “estimates of all the relevant costs” in future after concerns were raised about previous memorandums, particularly in relation to the National Care Service (NCS).

The First Minister said he wanted to provide not just the best estimates but also to inform committees of any changes as soon as possible.

Yousaf also rejected claims by Tory MSP Finlay Carson that the R100 programme - to get superfast broadband to everyone in Scotland - had gone “badly wrong”.

Carson called for a review into the policy which was supposed to be complemented by the end of 2021.